15 December, 2008

F*** pens (not really)

I’m always interested in how people go about producing comics. It’s instructive about the craft and fascinating from a creative perspective. For example, Paddy Brown (who writes and illustrates The Cattle Raid of Cooley web-comic) dives right in with a pen.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I like to draw. I’m okay at it, but I lack a bit of confidence. However, I have discovered something interesting about my process of ideation (at least visually).

Given a pen, I often hesitate to make my first mark and if it is not a good one, I lose heart. With a pencil it’s a different story. (And it’s not because I can erase as I draw; I often don’t bother).

I feel much more relaxed with a pencil (and not a push-pen either, a good old piece of wood with a rod of graphite down the middle). The tactile qualities of the pencil reassure me that nothing bad is going to happen. The feel of the wood in my fingers, the contact of the rounded graphite point on the paper, the natural quality of the line (its colour and shape) comfort me.

It seems that the tactile qualities of the pencil do not appeal to Paddy, who gives a full description of his unique comics production process:
“I don't use pencils - I find working directly in ink more satisfying. When I work with a pencil I find myself becoming more tentative, second-guessing myself, and when I've got a pencilled drawing I'm happy with, inking kills it. So I cut out the middle man.”
As long as we're all drawing.